How many times have you walked into a doctor's office and immediately been turned off? In a physician's office, the patient's first impression starts with the front desk. And most of the time, that first impression starts before the patient even walks in the door.
It's clear then that hiring, training, and maintaining an excellent staff is key to creating happy patients and ultimately driving revenue. We will look at five front office staff best practices that office managers and physicians should be looking at when evaluating their staff.
1. Professional Attitude. This may seem pretty straightforward, but let's take a moment to examine what exactly this means. Having a professional attitude goes beyond just greeting the patient when they come in for their appointment. It starts with the initial contact, which is most often a phone call. Train your front office staff to be kind, courteous, and above all, helpful, when dealing with patient phone calls. Nothing frustrates a patient more than a rude receptionist or one that is ill-informed about office policies. Your staff should always be willing to go above and beyond for your patients. This is what keeps them coming back and encourages them to refer your practice.
2. Have Accountability. Whether your office has a staff of 1 or 30, front office responsibilities can often go unchecked because things come up. In order to stay on top of front office staff duties, develop a checklist for each employee that details what they do every day. Compare these checklists and decide if duties can be better delegated to other people and make sure there is a balanced workload. This will increase productivity and revenue as less tasks are left unchecked.
3. Continuity With Patients. In order to avoid patients being misinformed, develop a script that answers Frequently Asked Questions. Each staff member can contribute their top five most frequently asked questions and the staff can work together to formulate the same answers. This helps improve patient information continuity and ultimately leads to less confusion and more efficient patient processing.
4. Patient Financing Policies. This is a priority when identifying front office staff best practices, because it directly relates to the practice's revenue. Patients are now responsible for 30-35% of their healthcare bills due to changes in their healthcare plans and this burden increasingly falls on physician practices. All front office staff should address patient financing options each time they schedule a patient on the phone. This way, confusion from the patient's perspective is avoided, and it is easier to collect patient balances. One way to make it even easier to collect from patients is by implementing a credit card on file payment system. Front office staff can explain this preferred payment policy and offer patients financial planning and solutions so they know what to expect. The patient will appreciate the transparency and the practice will be more profitable by collecting more revenue upfront. It's a win-win!
5. Constant Communication. This best practice can be interrupted in a few different ways. First, it is important for all front office staff to be in constant communication with each other. Communication helps avoid mistakes, unfinished tasks, and addresses any conflicts before they arise. Second, a key factor in front office staff best practices is communicating with patients frequently. By being in constant communication with your patients, you reduce the risk of no shows and cancelled appointments. There are several ways to maintain these communication channels: text messages, phone calls, emails, social media, etc.
Now that we've examined five front office staff best practices that will benefit your practice, it's time to put them to use. Get started today and see how effective (not to mention profitable) these changes will be for your practice!